While the Cuban trade embargo hasn’t had the same impact on the nation’s corn growers that it has had on U.S. rice producers - the National Corn Growers Association wants to make sure lawmakers don’t forget the issue is important to them.
DaNita Murray says the Cuban market is a big one for corn growers - and was their 10th largest export market last year…
“We, first of all want to make sure that we can continue to service this market, there are policies in place right now on Cuban exports that make us worry our farmers are at a competitive disadvantage, with other producers in the world that are also very well situated to serve this market, and we want to continue to preserve this market as well as grow it.
There are corn value-added products such as DDG’s and then meat that are huge opportunities, huge growth opportunities for the American corn grower.”
For instance - Murray says NCGA estimates exports of chicken to Cuba could double. She says that equates to a lot of corn fed to a lot of chickens. But without the changes in trade policy proposed by Representatives Collin Peterson and Jerry Moran - she says corn growers won’t be able to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities.
Murray admits there are a limited number of days left on the legislative calendar to address this issue - and it’s difficult to predict what might be considered in a lame duck session of Congress. Still - she says the window hasn’t entirely closed on legislative action this year…tape
“We’re still hopefully, farmers, I guess, by nature, optimist, And perhaps that rubs off on us here at the National Corn Growers. There’s still a possibility with the groundswell of support we’re seeing for these changes in Cuba policy. Recently, we saw the Obama administration send, what we consider to be a very positive signal regarding Cuban policy, and we certainly think that there has been a sea-change of public opinion, not just recently over the last few years regarding US policy towards Cuba on travel and trade.”
Speaking of support - Murray notes members of Congress are still at home in their districts - giving farmers an opportunity to get in front of them and talk about the importance of this issue. If they do - she says lawmakers will take notice…
“Those kinds of meetings, face-to-face, make a lot of difference on issues, if farmers care enough to mention issues directly to their lawmakers, that makes a huge difference in where that is on that members radar screen. And we think that farmers, by far, are the best messengers when it comes to what’s good for them, and their businesses and their operations.”
Murray says growers can make it very clear that the embargo has had the unintended consequence of working against the American farmer and rancher. She says that must be part of lawmaker considerations when they decide what to do on Cuba.